Currently browsing posts filed under "William Bennett ’65"

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No Fear To Be Smelled

My sense is that most Ephs would disagree with Bennett’s ’65 assessment of Trump’s performance at his press conference. For example, from Jon Lovett ’04:

Perhaps the truth is somewhere in between . . .


Election Thread

There is a US election today. Have you heard? The most prominent Eph supporter of Republican (?) nominee Donald Trump is William Bennett ’65.

It’s time to put aside our differences, elect Trump, and defeat a candidate under an FBI investigation. In America’s government of strong presidentialism, it’s the candidate at the top who matters, and a vote for Trump is the only feasible method of defending the principles of freedom, justice and prosperity Republicans hold in common against the most serious threat we have ever faced, a threat that begins to look like the final defeat of republican government, and permanent decline for the country we love.

The only other Eph I know who has publicly supported Trump is former faculty member John Drew. Are there any others?

The most prominent Eph supporter of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is probably Senator Chris Murphy ’96.

“She has spent time in the highest echelons of government, but she understands that families in America today are struggling to pay all their bills and save for college and retirement while wages seem stuck in neutral,” Murphy said. He also said he’s confident “she understands better than any other candidate, how a balanced approach between hard and soft power is the best way to protect America from developing threats overseas.”

The are scores of other Ephs who support Clinton. Feel free to provide links to their views (and share your own) in the comments. Also, share with us your predictions! Whatever reader gets closest (and first) to the actual electoral vote totals wins epic bragging rights.

I predict Clinton 275, Trump 263. You?


Williams & the Civil War: The Wrong Side – A Series Introduction

The 35-star American flag, following entry of West Virginia into the Union in 1863

The 35-star American flag, following entry of West Virginia into the Union in 1863

At long last, 150 years after the Union prevailed “with a brave army, and a just cause” in the American Civil War, one of the most visible remaining markers of that conflict is on everyone’s lips and coming down.

Williams College, and most Ephs, reflect on the Civil War through a Union lens — correctly so, from both a moral and historical perspective. As Leverett Wilson Spring described, “[t]here was no hesitation or uncertainty in the response of Williams men to the calls of patriotism” during the Civil War, and 317 Ephs (from the classes of 1825 to 1870) fought for the Union. 3 of these Ephs reached the rank of General for the U.S. Army. And these brave men, living and dead, were and are honored by the Civil War Monument in front of Griffin Hall.

But that doesn’t mean that Ephs have nothing to say about the rebellious Confederacy. EphBlog has previously noted William Lowndes Yancey, a one-year member of the Class of 1833, who became a leading secessionist, and he was not alone. In the early 20th century, distinguished historian and Williams faculty fixture Theodore Clarke Smith authored the excellent “Parties and Slavery, 1850-1859” as part of the 27-volume “The American Nation: A History,” assembled by Harvard Professor Albert Bushnell Hart, “The Grand Old Man” of American History as a discipline. More recently, led by Charles Dew ’58, the Ephraim Williams Professor of History, students and faculty in the Purple Valley have contributed greatly in their research to our knowledge of the South before, during, and after the Civil War.

So let’s use this occasion to learn more from and about Ephs on the subject of the Civil War and especially on the other side: the Confederacy. To forget the Confederacy is to forget an important part of our history as Americans, at the cost of misunderstanding our country today. As William Bennett ’65 has explained:

In the period right after the Civil War, the historian Shelby Foote reminds us, Americans ceased to speak of their country in the plural (“the United States are . . . “) and began to speak of it in the singular (“the United States is . . . “). The reason was plain: Like no other event in our history, the Civil War had brought home to every American the cost of irreconcilable division; from then on, we would speak of ourselves, and think of ourselves, as one. Curiously enough, however, it was in those same years that homegrown anti-American sentiments also began to manifest themselves with force and articulateness.

But there is nothing “curious” about this. The Civil War was fought not only to abolish slavery, but to keep the Union together. That is, to keep as Americans, not only the soon-to-be freed slaves, but their former captors. This assuredly shapes our present relationship with our country.


Eph Reactions To the Death of Bin Laden

A sampling from across the political and intellectual spectrum:


Bennett ’65 on National Educational Standards

From Charles Murray:

I expect that Rick Hess will weigh in with a more measured assessment of the proposed national educational standards in English and math, but my quick take is that the math standards are not awful (you can only do so much bobbing and weaving with math standards) and that the English standards are gobbledygook. Having seen the K-12 homework brought home by my two children who went through the Maryland public schools in the 1990s through the mid-2000s, I assure you that almost all of the proposed English standards can be met with the same mushy, touchy-feely curriculum currently in place.

Whatever elements of rigor may be found in these standards will be watered down, not augmented, during the review process. Bill Bennett’s [’65] response when he was asked years ago about the prospect for national educational standards still holds. Can’t happen, he said. “Republicans don’t do national, and Democrats don’t do standards.”

Indeed. The results of No Child Left Behind have certainly lived down to Bennett’s expectations.


Bilious Purging

Bill Bennett ’65 takes on Glen Beck.

There’s a lot to say about CPAC. This morning the major papers are highlighting Glenn Beck’s speech. I like Glenn a lot and I think he has something to teach us. But not what he offered last night.

Third, to admit it is still “morning in America” but a “vomiting for four hours” kind of morning is to diminish, discourage, and disparage all the work of the conservative, Republican, and independent resistance of the past year. The Tea Partiers know better than this. I don’t think they would describe their rallies and resistance as a bilious purging but, rather, as a very positive democratic reaction aimed at correcting the wrongs of the current political leadership. The mainstream media may describe their reactions as an unhealthy expurgation. I do not.

A year ago, we were told the Republican party and the conservative movement were moribund. Today they are ascendant, and it is the left and the Democratic party that are on defense — even while they are in control. That’s quite an amazing achievement. But anyone who knows the history of this country and its political movements should not be surprised. America has a long tradition of antibodies that kick in. From Carter we got Reagan. And from Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama we took back a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, with midterm elections on the horizon that Republicans and conservatives are actually excited about, not afraid of.

To say the GOP and the Democrats are no different, to say the GOP needs to hit a recovery-program-type bottom and hang its head in remorse, is to delay our own country’s recovery from the problems the Democratic left is inflicting.

Indeed. One of the reasons that I voted for Obama is that I hope/predicted that we would see precisely this sort of dynamic.

EphBlog readers will certainly disagree about the Tea Partiers, but surely we can agree that Bennett is a better/smarter conservative than Beck.


Nota Bennet

Latest Eph to join the blogosphere? Williams Bennett ’65 at the amusingly named Nota Bennet.

First, on the international front: War has broken out in the Gaza Strip and Israel. Let me refine that: Israel has joined the war that has been launched against them by Hamas launching missiles into Israel proper and is responding by firing back. On Wednesday and Thursday of last week, Hamas fired some 100 missiles into Israel and on Saturday, Israel responded with bombing raids in a campaign that will try to eliminate the Hamas threat on Israel and Egypt’s border. This is the Gaza strip, recall, that Israel withdrew from in toto in 2005 because international promises were made that it would be one giant step for peace for Israel.

Perhaps Ronit could add the feed to his uber-cool Updates from Other Eph Bloggers.


Faculty Demanded

Despite my 20-year status as flight leader of the Eph wingnut squadron, I don’t believe this story.

Former Secretary of Education William Bennett [’65], in a recent interview on MSNBC, spoke of the intolerance of liberal professors at our colleges and universities. He told the story of his alma mater, Williams College, where the president of the school invited him to speak. The faculty demanded to see the text of his speech in advance of the event. To his credit, Bennett refused, saying “What are you going to do, censor me?”


1) The writer, Joe Malone, is a former Massachusetts state treasurer so one hopes that he is reporting Bennett’s claim accurately. Yet that hope depends on your opinion of Massachusetts politicians in general . . .

2) Does anyone have a video/transcript of that MSNBC interview? Primary sources, please!

3) Bennett has, on at least one other occasion, made a claim about Williams that was false. (Alas, the comments on that post have vanished. Can any of our tech folks figure out why?) As always, I am happy to believe that he was honestly mistaken in that case, since he got the story secondhand. But in this case . . .

4) When was this purported speech, and which Williams president invited him? I am happy to believe that Bennett did speak at Williams, but I can’t find evidence of the speech at the Record or on the Williams homepage.

5) As much as I disagree with various Williams faculty members, especially my fellow Obama supporters [Hello Sam!], I find it incredible that they “demanded” anything of Bennett. Am I naive? At worst, I could imagine an honest curiosity to know what the topic was, a request that might have been misinterpreted by Bennett.

I still think that Williams would benefit from more ideological diversity. Yet spreading false stories does nothing but harm.


Bill Bennett ’65 Wins Coveted Award

(This gets at the argument started by Frank here. One of the perils of a Williams education is that you can never convincingly be one of those mythic “real people”. You will end up looking like a giant phony if you even try.)


Op-ed Advice

Bill Bennett ’65 on the Libby Trial.

In the aftermath of this case, I maintain what I said the first time Joe Wilson alleged the outing of his wife: if your spouse’s position is of such a classified nature that disclosure of her position would put her job in jeopardy, then don’t write a political op-ed in the New York Times that has implications for what your spouse did to put you in a position to write that op-ed.

Sound advice. Dan Blatt ’85 has more.


True or False?

This story has the ring of an urban legend.

Colleges and universities should help cultivate an understanding of why it is blessed to be American and help us to avoid America’s disintegration. A sign of how far we are from that goal is found in a review in a political science journal of several books, including one by William Bennett, former U.S. education secretary.

Bennett is quoted as having written in Why We Fight that on the Sunday after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11 there was a Pledge of Allegiance at his alma mater of Williams College that was attended by “two hundred students, numerous maintenance and cafeteria workers, the college president … and exactly one professor.”

True or false or somewhere in between?


Currently browsing posts filed under "William Bennett ’65"

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